Europe’s “ghost town”: What Turkey has performed to Cyprus


Europeans could also be unaware, however Europe features a “ghost town”. Since 1974, it has been occupied, abused and emptied of its indigenous inhabitants by Turkey.
Fenced off 46 years in the past when Greek Cypriots had been compelled to flee invading Turkish forces, part of the Cypriot district of Famagusta has remained a “ghost town.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not too long ago declared that “the two main streets and the coast in the Maras region [Famagusta in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus], which have been closed since the 1974 peace operation, have recently been opened to the use of the Cypriot people.”
“The closed Maras region belongs to the Turkish Cypriots; it should be known this way. There is no need to speculate on this … I call out to our cognates in northern Cyprus, to my Turkish brothers. This land is yours. You have to lay claim to these lands. You also need to protect the political will that lays claim to these lands. If we can put this out fully, I believe that the future in Cyprus will be very different,” Erdogan added,
The opening of the fenced-off space seems a part of the “election” politics by Turkey; the Erdogan authorities goals at firing up native Turkish nationalists throughout the presidential election held on October 11 in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. No candidate gained a majority of the votes within the first spherical and a second spherical might be held on October 18.
However, anybody who’s clueless concerning the historical past of Cyprus and who listens to Erdogan could be misled to suppose that the opening of this “coast” is a constructive growth and that even Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus was a very good incident.
But what have Turks actually performed to Cyprus?
The 1570 Ottoman Invasion
The Turkish presence in Cyprus dates again to the 16th century.
In an article entitled “The Battle of Lepanto: When Turks Skinned Christians Alive for Refusing Islam,” historian Raymond Ibrahim describes how “Muslim Turks — in the guise of the Ottoman Empire — invaded the island of Cyprus in 1570 and captured Famagusta.”
“After promising the defenders safe passage if they surrendered, Ottoman commander Ali Pasha — known as Muezzinzade (‘son of a muezzin’) due to his pious background — had reneged and launched a wholesale slaughter.  He ordered the nose and ears of Marco Antonio Bragadin, the fort commander, hacked off. Ali then invited the mutilated infidel to Islam and life: ‘I am a Christian and thus I want to live and die,’ Bragadin responded.  ‘My body is yours.  Torture it as you will’,” Ibrahim wrote, including, “So he was tied to a chair, repeatedly hoisted up the mast of a galley, and dropped into the sea, to taunts: ‘Look if you can see your fleet, great Christian, if you can see succor coming to Famagusta!’  The mutilated and half-drowned man was then carried near to St. Nicholas Church — by now a mosque — and tied to a column, where he was slowly flayed alive.  The skin was afterwards stuffed with straw, sown back into a macabre effigy of the dead commander, and paraded in mockery before the jeering Muslims.”
The Ottoman Turks transformed many historic church buildings into mosques, similar to St. Nicholas Cathedral, probably the most majestic construction in Famagusta. “In 1570 the Ottoman invasion which took Nicosia, then Famagusta, in hideous and bloody sieges, marked the end of the natural life of the edifice as a place of Christian worship,” in response to Michael Walsh, a professor of artwork and archaeology. St. Nicholas Cathedral remains to be used as a mosque in Turkish-occupied Famagusta and is now named “Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque” after the commander of the 1570 Ottoman invasion.
People stroll on the seashore near a Turkish army guard put up in entrance of abandoned inns in occupied Famagusta. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Famagusta is usually described as a ‘ghost town’ after its Greek inhabitants was compelled to flee Turkey’s invading armed forces. UN Security Council decision 550 (1984) considers any makes an attempt to settle any a part of Famagusta by folks aside from its inhabitants as inadmissible and requires the switch of this space to the administration of the UN. EPA-EFE//KATIA CHRISTODOULOUAuthor Helen Starkweather additionally famous, “In 1570, the Ottoman Turks sent cannonballs ripping through the walls in a siege that lasted for nearly a year. Outnumbered and starving, the Venetians surrendered in 1571. The Ottomans took over Cyprus and closed Famagusta to Christians. They built fountains throughout the city to modernize the water supply, and they converted most of the churches to mosques. A minaret was placed above the gothic buttresses of the former Cathedral of St. Nicholas, where Jerusalem’s kings had once been coronated. Churches that weren’t converted—as well as other buildings damaged by the siege—were left to ruin. By the 19th century, only a handful of residents remained, most living in shacks attached to deteriorating churches. In 1878, when the British occupied Cyprus, Scottish photographer John Thomson called Famagusta ‘a city of the dead.’”
Despite successive invasions and occupations all through the centuries, together with the Ottoman occupation from 1571 till 1878, the inhabitants of Cyprus remained predominantly Greek all through the nation. The Turkish-speaking Cypriot minority was scattered all throughout the island. The atrocities of Turkey in 1974 drove out the Greek Cypriots from the northern space, turning it right into a Turkish colony.
The 1974 Turkish invasion  
In 1878, Britain assumed the administration of Cyprus and annexed it following Turkey’s defeat within the First World War. Cyprus declared its independence from British rule in 1960. The Treaty of Guarantee mentioned that it “recognized and guaranteed the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus.” It was signed by Britain, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.
Fourteen years later, nevertheless, Turkey, violated the treaty and invaded Cyprus twice: on July 20 and on August 18, 1974. What adopted was ethnic cleaning via forcible displacement. Like the Ottoman occupation in 1570, the 1974 Turkish invasion was bloody and brutal.
Many well-documented atrocities had been dedicated by occupation forces throughout that interval. Civilians, together with youngsters between six months and eleven years, had been murdered. Many had been arbitrarily detained by the Turkish army authorities and positioned in focus camps. The detainees had been tortured or uncovered to different sorts of inhumane remedy, together with performing compelled labor.
Greek Cypriot ladies and kids between the ages of 12-71 had been raped. Houses and enterprise premises of those that needed to go away had been looted, seized, and appropriated.
Professor Van Coufoudakis notes in his 2008 report “Human Rights Violations in Cyprus by Turkey” that “evidence of the gross and continuing violations of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus come from, among others, eyewitness accounts, NGO investigations, various international organizations, the European Commission of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, and reports by international media.”
Since 1974, Turkey has forcibly occupied 36 p.c of the sovereign territory and 57 p.c of the shoreline of the Republic of Cyprus. The ethnic cleaning of the northern space of Cyprus by Turkey has resulted within the displacement of greater than 170,000 Greek Cypriots. In addition to Greek Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites, and others had been additionally forcibly displaced. As a consequence, it was the Christian inhabitants who was dissolved by Turkey.
In 1983, the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) was established with a unilateral declaration. This declaration was condemned by the worldwide group, and to this present day, Turkey stays the one nation that has acknowledged the entity. The “TRNC” doesn’t exist as a state however slightly a de-facto administration of the Turkish occupation. Turkey is the one to be held accountable for its actions in Cyprus such because the obliteration of the island’s cultural heritage.
A 2012 report entitled “The Loss of a Civilization: Destruction of cultural heritage in occupied Cyprus” paperwork the devastation by Turkish forces of monasteries, church buildings, Christian and Jewish cemeteries, amongst different non secular and cultural artifacts. According to the report,
“Turkey has been committing two major international crimes against Cyprus. It has invaded and divided a small, weak but modern and independent European state (since 1 May 2004 the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the EU); Turkey has also changed the demographic character of the island and has devoted itself to the systematic destruction and obliteration of the cultural heritage of the areas under its military control.”
Famagusta since 1974
Famagusta is a district on the east coast of Cyprus with an extended historical past and deep significance as a cultural heritage place.
During the second section of the Turkish invasion, on August 14, 1974, Famagusta was bombed by the Turkish air drive. As a results of the Turkish airstrikes, dozens of civilians died, together with vacationers.
In 1984, the Turkish army accomplished surrounding the empty and looted a part of Famagusta. A bit of Famagusta was fenced off and have become solely accessible for the Turkish army. Its disused outlets, inns and houses have remained untouched since 1974 and it has been given the label of “a ghost town”.
The present standing of Famagusta is similar as the remainder of the occupied space. Most of Famagusta is below Turkish army occupation and below the management of Turkey – not as a result of the Greek locals acquired bored and “abandoned” the city. It is as a result of they had been terrorized by Turkish troops and fled for his or her lives.
A abandoned Greek Orthodox Church contained in the Turkish-occupied coastal metropolis of Famagusta within the north of Cyprus. EPA//KATIA CHRISTODOULOUIn a 2009 article at Smithsonian Magazine, creator Helen Starkweather warned the world concerning the state of affairs of Famagusta, calling it an “endangered site.”
“‘All ships and all wares,’ a 14th-century German traveler wrote, ‘must come first to Famagusta.’ The port metropolis on the northeastern coast of Cyprus was as soon as on a bustling transport lane, carrying retailers from Europe and the Near East and armies of Christian knights and Ottoman Turks. Famagusta rose to prominence between the 12th and 15th centuries, most notably as town the place the Crusader kings of Jerusalem had been topped.
“Now ancient Famagusta, tucked into a modern city of 35,000 people, also called Famagusta, is largely forgotten, except, perhaps, as the setting for Shakespeare’s Othello. Some 200 buildings—reflecting Byzantine, French Gothic and Italian Renaissance architectural styles—are in a state of disrepair. Weeds and wildflowers press against sandstone walls eroded by rain and earthquakes. Agencies such as UNESCO are unable to send either funds or conservationists due to the economic and social embargo the international community imposed on northern Cyprus after it was forcibly annexed by Turkey in 1974.”
Turkey has used two essential pretexts for invading the island. The first one is the coup engineered by the Greek junta, which toppled the democratically-elected Cypriot president, Archbishop Makarios III. The coup collapsed just a few days later and democratic rule in Cyprus was re-established. Hence, there was no precise want for Turkey to intervene. A second excuse was that Turkey “aimed at protecting Turkish Cypriots” from Greek Cypriot violence. But even Turkish officers have confessed that the violence was principally dedicated by Turks to pave the best way for a army invasion.
General Sabri Yirmibesoglu, a Turkish military officer, for instance, mentioned in 2010 that Turkey had burned a ‎mosque throughout the Cyprus battle “in order to foster civil resistance” towards Greek Cypriots. He additionally mentioned that “the Turkish special warfare department has a rule to engage in acts of sabotage against the respected values [of the Turks] made to look as if they ‎were carried out by the enemy.”
Today Turkey nonetheless shockingly calls the atrocities it dedicated in 1974 “a peace operation.”
No matter what the Turkish authorities claims, the images and paperwork regarding Famagusta and the remainder of the occupied space in Cyprus inform their very own story: People fled from the invading Turkish military that killed, tortured and raped. And those that fled are nonetheless not allowed to return.